Principal's Blog: June 2017


2015 10 22 13.03.5613 May: Tree dedication
In a moving ceremony we dedicated a tree to the memory of two Brasenose students who died whilst here, Matt Carver who died in 2008 and Kieran Keel in 2014. Matt read History and Kieran History and Spanish. History Tutors Dr Archer and Prof Abigail Green spoke fondly of Matt and Kieran and Dr Archer kindly donated a cercidiphyllum japonicum which is planted in the Deer Park. Former student India Hill read a wonderful poem. Both families attended and after the speeches the Chaplain Rev Prof Judith Brown blessed the tree and sprayed some holy water over it. It was a wonderful yet sad ceremony. Some forty students attended.

16 May: Visit of Tim Roache
We had an excellent speech from Tim Roache, GMB General Secretary, about the role of trade unions in modern society. He concentrated on the so-called gig economy, zero hours contracts and how trade unions could fight back. In answering questions, he dealt with the likelihood of Labour winning the General Election, Brexit and many other topics. It was refreshing to hear a different viewpoint than those we normally receive. That night we also entertained to High Table one of our Honorary Fellows, economist Prof Martin (‘Marty’) Feldstein and his wife Kate, who were over here visiting from Harvard.

22 May: Heads of House dinner
Each term, we get together as Heads of Colleges (whether termed Rectors, Principals, Presidents or Wardens) to have a dinner. This term we met at Magdalen College and were saying goodbye to five Heads of House who are retiring over the next year, Margaret MacMillan, Alice Prochaska, Drummond Bone, Ivor Roberts and Hermione Lee. All are quite different in subject and personality but each has brought great strength to their respective colleges and will be much missed.  

23 May: Welfare lunch
We welcomed Rev Bruce Kinsey, Chaplain of Balliol College, who gave a fascinating account of the role of the chaplain within colleges and his work on the Cross Colleges Chaplains’ Group. This lunch held every term is attended by the many people within College who are involved in Welfare in one form or another, including student peer supporters and our College Doctors and Nurse.

On the same day our Chaplain, Rev Prof Judith Brown, launched the first of a series entitled An Introduction to meditation, which introduces the concept of silent meditation. Judith believes that the capacity to practise reflective silence, within or outside a religious tradition, is a great resource for life, and I heartily agree.

24 May: Boat club breakfast
I made a rousing call to arms to our Boat Club over breakfast as they started Eights Week (a four-day regatta of bumps races). I felt distinctly underdressed as I went tieless whereas the male rowers were all kitted out in coloured ties and natty blazers. I am hoping they will do well.

24 May: General Election Question Time:
I refereed a wide ranging and good humoured General Election Question Time in Brasenose. The Conservative, Lib Dems and Labour Parties were represented respectively by Matt Burwood, a PPE student here, Duncan Greenland CBE and Natascha Engel MP. Mark Lynas represented the Green interest (although not the Party itself) and Dr Elias Dinas (Tutor in Politics) provided a European and psephological viewpoint. Topics covered included the Manchester bombing, Brexit, climate change and who was going to win. The panel brought their varied experiences to bear on questions submitted by the audience in advance and some others which I formulated. No tempers were raised and we all had a very enjoyable dinner together afterwards.

24 May: Harry Baigent recital
Our Junior Organ Scholar Harry Baigent performed a short Organ Recital by Candlelight at 9pm in the Chapel. The atmospheric programme included works by J S Bach, Brahms and Saint-Saens and was followed by a Compline at 9.30pm. Harry is 17 and studying at Cherwell School and is our Junior Organ Scholar through this year. He is preparing for the diploma of the Royal College of Organists, and is in increasing demand as a recitalist across the country.

AshmoleSoc2017Our Ashmole History Society celebrated the 400th anniversary of Elias Ashmole’s birthdate with a party (pictured).

Our Brasenose team in the Town and Gown 10k race raised a creditable £2000 in aid of Muscular Dystrophy. Thomas Steer, one of our PPE students, heroically ran in a Grimsby Town football shirt.

Each term we have a dinner in the Tower Bursary with guests from within College and outside, usually with a common theme. This time the theme was Education and we had a lively debate on grammar schools over pudding.

On 17 May we hosted a Book launch in College for the third edition of a book on Whistleblowing which I co-author with fellow-lawyers Messrs Lewis, Fodder and Mitchell. It is available from all good bookshops (and some bad ones, plus Amazon) and is selling especially well in Grimsby!


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